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MG TD TF 1500 - Dim Headlamps & Relays

Thinking about installing headlamp relays to my '53 TD. I have the repro Lucas PL700 Tripod headlamps now which have a poor light pattern and seem quite dim and was thinking of changing to Sylania. One of the issues (?) I have found is that I am only getting 10.5v to the lamps. The generator is putting out sufficient amperage, but my wiring harness is quite old (and is now unmarked). At idle, the amp meter shows a discharge of 15A and doesn't get to charging until above 2000 RPM with the low beams on. Although I don't drive the TD much at all at night, I'd like to address this in case I'm stuck somewhere and need to get home at night. Any ideas what the issue, if any, may be?
L Karpman

Fitting relays and H4 type bulbs would certainly be a big improvement, especially if you ditch the tripod headlamps which are very inefficient. I bought light units with domed glass and a Lucas markings on the front that do the job and look authentic. Sold by Stafford Vehicle Components, amongst others, over here, but no doubt you can find a source closer to home.
Dave H
Dave Hill

I put headlamp relays on my TF in 1971 during rebuild. They worked excellently. Some later owner removed them and I was disappointed to find them gone when I got the car back in 2001.

They can be fitted unobtrusively - you want them as near the lights as possible, with a good heavy feed wire from the fuse. I think I depended on the standard fuses. As I made my own loom, wrapped with friction tape, I didn't have visible extra wires.

David
D A Provan

I just fitted the Headlight Kit from Moss to my 53 TD. I have the Sealed beam Halogen 7" units. I can't honestly say I see any improvement but a lot of amps are not going through the switch now.
They also now have a fuse in the feed line for protection.
I did this at the Dip switch position and it is easy to get to and the loom there has all the wires to do the job.
Mounted the relays by the tool box for easy access.

Rod Jones

Very nice Rod! Can you give me a clear description of the hook up if possible), especially since I have no color coded wires?
L Karpman

http://www.mgexp.com/phorum/read.php?46,3507209,page=2

This is a description of how I did it but I am sure there are other ways :)
The dip switch should have all the wires you will need to get to and you can undo 2 screw and bring the dip switch out into the cockpit to work on it.
This is my wiring Dia. That shows the finished circuit.
My Dip Switch has one wire on the center terminal that was Power feed from the light switch. One of the other two terminals - one had 3 wires. Two go to the headlight Main Beams and one to the dash speedo telltale Main Beam light. The only tricky part was to OHM out the 3 wires - to find out which one went to the Dash. You just leave it on that terminal. Then just follow the install instructions with the Kit. The dip Switch is well within the wire length of the relay loom if mounted on the firewall by the tool box. Relay power comes form the starter hot side Direct to battery via its fuse.

If you get suck drop me a note at jones3975 at Outlook dot com


Rod Jones

Rod, the reason you are not seeing an improvement in headlamp brightness is because you are still using the 'lightweight' wiring from the dipswitch to the headlamps. As was mentioned earlier, the relays need to be close to the headlamps. Intercept the headlamp wiring at the headlamp snap connectors, insert your relays there. Then a heavy duty headlamp power lead from the battery supply via a fuse down to the relays. Your headlamps will then be up to 'modern' brightness!
Lindsay Sampford

Exactly. That is the correct way to do it.
Dave H
Dave Hill

I want to add a couple of details to Rod's excellent sketch. I would fit two 15A fuses AFTER the relays. If you use only one before the relay and it fails you will loose both main and dip lights. The wires to the relay coils can be the original ones from the dipper switch but you will need new ones to ground. They can be light duty. However the wires to and from the relay contacts must be new heavy duty stuff. 28/0.30mm will be fine. This is rated at 25A. I would recommend HIGHLY that all readers obtain a catalogue from Vehicle Wiring Products. Not only do they have every electrical part that you might need, at very good prices, but the catalogue shows the ratings of cable, bulbs, contacts on switches/relays and other circuit diagrams. Both myself and my TD owning friend up the road purchased everything needed to rewire our cars at a fraction of the cost of buying a new loom.


The web site to go to is www.vehicleproducts.CO.uk
(The CO is lower case). They do export.

I am in no way connected to the company just a very satisfied customer.

Jan T

J Targosz

When I fitted this relay kit form Moss. It did not say to change the wiring? Also for what it is worth, my headlights [sealed beams] are very bright and work extremely well. I did not fit the kit to make them brighter but to protect the switch which will no doubt become made of unobtainium.

You are correct that increasing the wire size and adding separate fuses is a good way to go. Will just have to get back down the leg tunnel - damn it..... :)
Rod Jones

Fair enough, I've never seen the Moss kit, but it sounds like they have a different way of doing it from some of us. There is existing wiring from the dipswitch to the connector at the end of the headlamp tail and it seeme logical to connect to relays here, close to the front of the car. A separate heavy gauge cable supplies the power.
Having individual fuses on dip and main beam makes sense in some ways, but if you get a fuse of that size blow, it would be very wise to stop immediately and investigate as something is seriously wrong.
Dave H
Dave Hill

Thanks for all the comments/diagrams guys. I don't have the Moss kit in hand, so I don't know what their wiring instructions say. Also, as I have no colors on an old wiring harness covered with old black cloth, it makes it a lot more difficult to identify wires. A few questions for Linsay and Dave Hill. You both say to intercept the headlamp wiring either at, "the headlamp snap connectors," or "the connector at the end of the headlamp tail." Can either of you give me the approximate location of these connectors in the wiring from the dip switch, and the approximate location you mounted the relays? Also, I assume as I would be intercepting there, there is no work to be done at the actual dip switch in the cockpit - correct? I'm probably getting ahead of my self without the relay instructions in hand, but I thought I'd ask anyway.
L Karpman

Here you go The instructions.


http://www.mossmotors.com/graphics/products/PDF/117-515.pdf
Rod Jones

L, I am presuming the TD wiring is similar to the MGA. The place for the relays is at the end of the headlamp wiring loom where it joins the headlamp 'pigtails'. There should be double snap connectors here where the split is for left and right headlamps. The relay coils are connected to the end of the loom in place of the headlamp wires, one relay being the 'high' the other 'dip'. The main power lead is then connected to the common contact on both relays. The contact that is 'made' when each of the relays are energised is then connected to the respective pair of headlamp filaments. Hope this make some sort of sense!
Lindsay Sampford

Thanks Lindsay and Rod!
L Karpman

Here's my diagram.

Lindsay Sampford

Yes, thats the way I did it. The TD and TF have the headlamp tail connectors on each side, just inboard from the headlamps. You only need to use those on one side for switching both, and the others become redundant. I used the RHS and mounted the two relays on the RH bonnet side just below the wing line.
Dave H
Dave Hill

Dave Hill, et al: Here's my problem. Under each wing, the cloth covered harness splits into a Y. Two wires go to the parking lamp and two to the headlamp. Unfortunately the cloth covering all the wires is frayed with NO color coding left and all the plastic coated internal wires are black! I need to figure out what to connect to what, in so many words. Should be fun - Not! :-)
L Karpman

Switch your headlights on dip then disconnect wires (carefully!) Until it goes out, that is your dip wire....etc
,....or you could pay my air fare and I'll nip over and do it for you!
Lindsay Sampford

Haha! Would you like First Class, Business Class, or Cattle Class? Nah, but thanks I'll get it sorted.
L Karpman

Well, after searching hi and low, I can't seem to find the snap connectors in my ancient harness. I can find the split. My harnes is completely covered in old cloth braid, so I imagine they're hiding in there somewhere. Can anyone offer a usual/normal location for the snap connectors on a TD?

L Karpman

Larry,

If you have an original wiring harness then the snap connectors are in the headlamp bucket. If you have the WSM, you can see them in Fig N.24. After market looms had them under the wing, this makes removing the wings eaiser.

I would have really liked to meet up with you again, but now I am retired, no more business trips to Dallas.

John

J Scragg

I remember from my TD days that the dip switch is fitted to the dashboard. It would be a very simple job to connect the coils in the relays directly to the rear of the switch and earth them to any convenient bolt. Power to the relay contacts could come from the ammeter and feed to the lamps using the original wires removed from the dip switch. Line fuses in the main feed to the lamps would be a good idea.This would protect the contacts in the headlamp and dipper switches but would not uprate the wires to the headlamps. This would be just about OK for original headlamp bulbs but new, heavier duty cables would be better and probably essential for halogen bulbs.

Jan T
J Targosz

Hi John. I don't know if my harness is original or not. I see the connectors in the factory wiring diagram in the buckets, but I am somewhat confused now. The instructions in the relay kit say, "You need to connect the leads (with the male bullet connectors from the relays) 'upstream' from the split. Otherwise, only one side of the car will light." If the connectors are in the bucket, they are 'downstream' from the split. Hence my search for connectors outside the bucket.

My apologies to all that have responded for being so dense, but if I can get answers to the list below, I can get this done (please omit references to additional fuses and wire gauge, as my brain is fried. I got that:

1. Remove the 2 & 4 wires connected to the back of the foot dip switch and replace with the wires to the relay coils - correct?

2. Does it matter which wire goes to the high and low beam relays, as long as one goes to each? If not, without wiring color, is there a way to identify which of the 2 & 4 wires on the back of the dip switch is high beam and which is low beam so they can be connected to the appropriate relay?

3. Take the blue/red wires from the low beam relay and connect them to...? Please list the approx. location of the connection points.

4. Take the blue/white wires from the high beam relay and connect them to...? Please list the approx. location of the connection points.

Once again, apologies, but having no wire colors on my harness, and not being able to determine the connection locations to the lights is the root cause of my confusion. I've made many electrical accessory item connections on my car without an issue, but when it comes to main harness connections, without color or knowing bullet connector location, I'm in the dark (like Lucas :-).
L Karpman

Disconnect blue/red wires(there should be two) from dip switch and connect to termal 87 of one of the relays. If there is only one only connect one.
Fit a new wire from the now empty terminal on the dip switch to terminal 85 of the relay (preferably a blue/red wire)
Fit new wire from terminal 86 of the relay to an earthing point (preferably a black wire)
Fit a new wire from terminal A1 on the regulator to terminal 30 on the relay (preferably brown/blue) Must be as thick as the one that is also connected to terminal A1.

Repeat everything with another relay but using the blue/white wire at the dip switch.

The relay terminal numbers I have used are for UK ones if yours are different someone from the states may be able to help. If not get back to me and I will explain how to test with a battery and bulb

Jan T
J Targosz

Thanks Jan. My car is negative earth. In the relay kit wiring diagram, the 85 terminal goes to earth. You say the 86 goes to earth. Also, again I emphasize that I have no colors on any of my wires anywhere, including at the foot mounted dip switch.

Your method is totally different than the relay instructions, but I understand there a numerous ways to do this. Does your method use the existing wiring to the headlamps, eliminating the need to wire the red/blue and blue/white wires FROM the relays to the headlamps? And does it power the relays from A1 instead of connecting to the starter switch? Or am I totally confused?

If I choose to use the method in the relay instructions, I will still need answers to my questions 1-4 in my last post.
L Karpman

Larry, maybe I can help, but I need to now where you're starting from. Do you have the Moss 117-515 Kit? Is your car a later TD with the floor mounted dip switch? You're wired for negative ground. Have you printed out the Moss instructions?

Are your bullet connectors for the headlights inside of the headlight housings? Do you have a printout of the WSM wiring diagram from page N.23? If you don't have the Moss kit do you have two standard automotive relays? Do you have a reasonable supply of 12 or 14 ga. wire?

The thing that you're trying to do is to have the dip switch wires actuate the relays. The relays in turn will connect power to the desired headlamps. It's really that simple. I'm sure that you can do it. Bud
Bud Krueger

Larry, your 4 answers are:

1) They will be replaced with the Blue/Red and Blue/White wires from the relay terminals #86, the Moss Female Bullet Connector End.

2)It doesn't matter. You can use a test lamp to determine which wire is for high and low beams and label them.

3)To the headlamp high beam wires from Q#2

4) To the headlamp low beam wires from Q#2

Bud
Bud Krueger

Thanks Bud. I don't have the kit, but I have the instructions. Yes, floor mounted dip switch, negative ground. I'm not sure if my bullet connectors are in the buckets, but I believe they are.

I'm sure this is simple, but I'm getting different ways to do this, so I am confused, and having no wire colors left doesn't help. I have the WSM page N23 and have always used that for wiring accessories and when I rewired my dash. I'm positive I can do it if I knew where to connect the Blue/red and blue/white wires FROM the relays. The instructions say the connections must be 'upstream' from the split. Aren't the connectors in the headlamps downstream from the split?

J Targosz's instructions are different than the instructions in the kit. This adds to my confusion. I don't care HOW I do it, I just want to Do it.



L Karpman

OK Bud, is this correct? If not please advise.

1) They will be replaced with the Blue/Red and Blue/White wires from the relay terminals #86, the Moss Female Bullet Connector End.

So, I remove the wires from each of the two terminals on the dip switch, leaving the beam indicator wire in place. I connect one blue/red wire from the low beam relay to one terminal on the dip switch. I connect one blue/white wire from the high beam relay to the other terminal.

2)It doesn't matter. You can use a test lamp to determine which wire is for high and low beams and label them.

3)To the headlamp high beam wires from Q#2

I connect the remaining blue/white wire from the high beam relay to the high beam wire formerly attached to the dip switch

4) To the headlamp low beam wires from Q#2

I connect the remaining blue/red wire from the low beam relay to the low beam wire formerly attached to the dip switch.

I wire the relays to ground at a convenient ground point and connect the relay power wire at the starter switch.
L Karpman


I have sort of always had the relay conversion on my list of things to do---SOMEDAY.

I decided, after, reading this note, to look at the potential improvements the relay conversion might bring.

I say improvements because there are two significant changes.
1) the (potential) lower voltage drop provides more voltage to the headlamps and thus more light output.

2) The headlight current no longer flows through the dip switch, improving switch life.

Looking at the wiring diagram in the WSM, for the car with the floor mounted dip switch, I see the following current flow path. Start at the input side of the starter switch, then to the ammeter, ammeter to the control box terminal A, control box terminal terminal A1 to ignition switch, Ignition switch to floor dipswitch, Dipswitch to Headlamp.

ESTIMATING the wire length;
head lamp (LH) to dip switch 6'
Dip switch to Ignition Switch, 3'
Ifbition switch to A1 control box 3'
Control box A to Ammeter 3'
Ammeter to Starter switch 4'
Total 19'
With #18 wire,(resistance = 0.0064 Ohms/ft) Total drop 1.9 volts.
With #16 wire, (resistance = 0.004 Ohms/ft) Total Drop 1.2 volts
With #14 Wire (Resistance = 0.0025 Ohms/ft) total drop 0.75 Volts.

Now this is a simplification since the wire going from the starter switch to the ammeter is larger then the wires following. Also I base this on a 16 amp draw, which is for 2 halogen lamps.

If I were installing this I would mount the relays closer to the headlamps, say on a bracket using the radiator stay bolts.
One could take power off Terminal A1. This would give a length of 16'
or off the starter relay, giving a shorter length of 10'

The latter would lower the voltage drop to 1/2 of present, if one used the same size wire, or to perhaps as low as 0.4 volts for #14 wire.

The cost of the relay Kit was around $45.

I then got to thinking, what would a Conversion to LED do? What would it cost?

I ran across this:
http://www.norbsa02.freeuk.com/goffyWhyNotLEDs.htm

Look at the special offer 1/2 way down the page.

Two of these would cost 125 (about $163). It would reduce the current through the switch by about 1/4 or less.
It would provide as much light as a Halogen.

The bulbs have internal circuitry that supply the LED's with the same, proper voltage independent of the voltage drop and the wiring change is minimal,

Just another thought.

Jim B.



JA Benjamin

Larry, your last question/answers are okay. Can you locate the snap connectors that are shown by the dipper switch? The one with four bullets is the one intended for the high beams. That extra bullet goes to then high beam warning light.

I really don't understand upstream/downstream wiring directions. Is 'upstream' in the direction of the power source and 'downstream' in the direction of the load? Bud
Bud Krueger

Bud: I can't locate bullets by the dip switch. I have two wires connecting to each terminal and one wire to the bulb. I'll disconnect the dipper from it's mount so I can see how the wires are connected. It's difficult to tell by feel.

Are you saying I have the connections correct in my last post? This is MOST important to know.

Upstream is before the split and downstream is after the split as far as I can tell. Here is the quote from the Moss Relay Kit instructions, "You need to connect the leads (with the male bullet connectors from the relays) upstream from the split. Otherwise, only one side of the car will light."
L Karpman

Oops Sorry Bud. I only have THREE total wires going to the dip switch. I think I found the snap connectors in the harness above the dip switch, and one is really fat and cover is kinda melted together. The cover is missing on the double one.

I think I can find the high and low beam wires at the dip switch with a test lamp. I just really need to know if my answers to you connector post are correct and I can wire the relays that way.
L Karpman

Sounds better, Larry. Yes, to your wiring idea. Finding those connectors makes the job a 'snap'. A test lamp should let you know which is which. Bud
Bud Krueger

Bud. I reached in with a test lamp. Touching the right terminal (viewed from the driver seat), headlamps on, high beam light off, and the test lamp illuminated. It also illuminated when I touched the left terminal. I switched to high beam, high beam light on, and touched the left terminal and the light illuminated, but did not illuminate when I touched the right terminal. The headlamps and high beam indicator bulb confirmed when I was in high and low beam. I'm wondering why the left terminal was powered in both the high and low beam position, and the right was not powered in the low beam position. Confusing.
L Karpman

Larry, one of the wires brings the signal (power) from the light switch to the dip switch. That seems to be your left terminal, originally a blue wire. It is always hot if the lights are turned on. The dip switch just switches it from 'high' to 'dipped'. There are three terminals on the switch. What's the story on the third terminal? Bud
Bud Krueger

Don't know Bud, but there are definitely 3 terminals and 3 wires hooked up on the back of the dip switch. I can't seem to maneuver to get a test light on it, and I'm having a devil of a time freeing up the dip switch to get to it.
L Karpman

Ok Bud, got the dip switch off. When low beams are on there is power to the right terminal of the dip switch. No power to the left. When the high beam is switched on, there is power to the left terminal but no power to the right. There is power to the center terminal in both high and low beam. Light switch on of course for all these tests.
L Karpman

It doesn't matter where the relay is placed, it is the length of the wire from the A1 terminal to the lamp bulb that determines the voltage drop and the relay can be anywhere along this. I wouldn't site them to the front of the car in case of water splash. Mine are under the bonnet but I note a short while ago a suggestion to fit them under the passenger foot rest in the body of the car - an excellent idea. I don't want to confuse the issue further but terminals 30 and 87, on a four blade relay, are interchangeable as are 85 and 86. I have used 5 blade relays for the TF and blade 87 goes to one headlamp and 87b to the other. (Some relays simply have two 87 terminals) With this system you don't have to splice the supply to feed the two lamps. This is a more elegant solution but I made up the loom myself and was able to "plumb in" modifications. It is possible to set up a system with only a single 5 blade changeover relay but they cost 6 as opposed to 2 for the standard make and brake relay.

A good thread for keeping the dementia at bay.

Jan T
J Targosz

L K.
It sounds like you are on the right track for what you are trying to do. :) Good job.
I did not include the picture of the dip switch which might have helped you. I only did my conversion here as it was very near to the relays which I have placed on the bulkhead for easy access. The loom wiring is 12swg, which I think is plenty big enough for my halogen sealed beams headlights. Your description of your dip switch is confirmed by mine and the 3 wires on the Left terminal [looking at the terminals] are the High beams. Someone made a good point that putting the fuse in the headlight wiring after the relays, one for each side, is the better way to go. Assuming if you lose the headlights on one beam - you should be able to use the other to stop safely. Again assuming all wires are not shorted.
As it is I have a 20amp fuse in the supply to the headlights which came with the kit and for now it stays like that. Taking the supply form the starter lug connection - keeps the 20amp fuse in an accessible place as well, as seen in the photo above.
Whichever way you decide go is OK. It can be done many ways.

You are protecting your switch [expensive] and possibly getting better light as well.

Happy motoring
At night too
:)



Rod Jones

Okay, Larry, you're ready to go. Now you have to decide what you want to accomplish.

1) Install the relays so as to avoid your headlamp current going through the dash switch. Stick with existing wiring to headlights.

2) Install relays as in #1, but replace wiring from relays to headlamps with new 12 ga. wires.

3) as #2, but install fuses. Interestingly enough, OEM headlight circuits are not normally fused. They are more apt to be wired through circuit breakers. It's something worth studying.


Whichever you opt to do, you'll need to gather some parts, e.g., relays, wire, bullet connectors.

Larry, I'm probably going to be sitting at home watching Indy this afternoon. I'd be happy to chat, I'm at 678-903-5476. Bud
Bud Krueger

Thanks Bud & Rod.

Bud, don't want to interrupt your Indy watching, so I'll do so afterwards:

I thought I was ready to go, but I guess I'm not.
First, I'm not going to use the snap connectors. I was going to wire it as I previously described, and you confirmed, so I need a bit of clarification of the following:

1) Install the relays so as to avoid your headlamp current going through the dash switch. Stick with existing wiring to headlights.

2) Install relays as in #1, but replace wiring from relays to headlamps with new 12 ga. wires.

3) as #2, but install fuses. Interestingly enough, OEM headlight circuits are not normally fused. They are more apt to be wired through circuit breakers. It's something worth studying.

L Karpman

OK folks, Bud was kind enough via emails to get me straight. I AM going to use the snap connectors after all, but I'm going to replace them first. When fiddling around down there, the main power lead for the headlamps bullet just fell out of its female connector as the female end was cracked open. The plastic coverings are all deteriorated, hence replacement. I'm going to wire the relays as per the kit instructions, adding fuses. I thank all of you for your input, and because I am obviously so "electrically challenged" I hope this thread serves as good info in the archives for other dunces like me :-) I noted by searching the archives one of my posts from 2006 where I talked about replacing my ancient wiring harness after I first got this TD. Well obviously I never got around to it in the last 11 years, (life got in the way) but it's very high on my "to do" list right now. Thanks again to all.
L Karpman

A good friend worked in the hospital laboratory and when they were re-equipping they were throwing out apparatus clamps. Many will remember these from school chemistry classes where they would be used to hold test tubes over bunsen burners, He gave me several of these and when rewiring the TF I found these invaluable for holding bullet connectors vertical when soldering. I found this was the only way to get the solder to run into the joint.

Jan T
J Targosz

I just heard from Larry. He has installed the relay system with theses results, "...Hi Bud. Just letting you know that a voltage check at the headlamps now show 12.6v high and low beam, vs. 10.5v prior to installing the relays. The lights are considerably brighter...." We'll probably hear from Larry on the forum. Bud
Bud Krueger

Bud's correct, you're hearing from me. First, many thanks to all who responded with help and info on the forum, and a big thanks to Bud for the help via email, and my apologies for being so dense at times. Here are my results after installing the Moss relay kit (the relays were mounted in the cockpit on the back of the toolbox):

A voltage check at the headlamps now show 12.6v high and low beam, vs. 10.5v prior to installing the relays. Prior to installation the ammeter showed a 15 amp draw, low beams, at idle. Now it shows around 9 amps. I did read somewhere that a 2v drop in voltage at the lamps would result in a 50% loss of brightness. So getting that 2v back with the relays certainly helped brighten things up.

While the lights are considerably brighter, I must say the high beam pattern on the repro PL700s is quite poor. Only drove the TD at night once before in 12 years and the lighting was terrible. But, last night the low beam was adequate, and Id be OK if I had to navigate at night. As soon as I find a flat pace and a wall 25 away, I can adjust them properly, as its only "ballpark" right now. Now to decide what to replace them with. I did find DOT/SAE approved LEDs, with a "slight" domed lenses, and am considering those over halogen. If not, Ill probably go with the old standby Sylvania.
L Karpman

I'm reasonably satisfied with my night driving using the halogen sealed beams on Lazarus. But I was curious. So, I bought some appropriate 12 & 14 ga. wire from British Wiring plus a relay and wired up the low beam network.

YMMV, but the effect that I obtained was an increase in light output of about 19%. This was from an increase in voltage at the bulb of about 5%. FYI, the light output from a typical incandescent lamp varies as the applied voltage to the 3.5 power, i.e., H~V^^3.5.

IMHO, not worth the cost or addition of more components that could fail. Lazarus' wiring harness is about 22 years old and still shows its colors. The light switch and dipping switch are probably still original from 1951.

Bud
Bud Krueger

This thread was discussed between 25/05/2017 and 24/06/2017

MG TD TF 1500 index

This thread is from the archive. The Live MG TD TF 1500 BBS is active now.